Friday, July 26, 2013

Taking Advantage of Summer Produce Without a Garden

Summer is in full swing around here and the garden season is well underway. People are harvesting, canning, freezing and preserving all of summer's abundance their gardens produce. When you visit the store this is the time of year for fresh fruit sales and rock bottom vegetable prices as well. And while this makes summer a time full of yummy fresh treats we all know what will happen in a few months. The prices will start to climb and the quality will go down and that same tomato that you are completely enjoying right now will be tasteless cardboard for 3x the money in November. How can you take advantage of the "bounty" of summer if you aren't able to have your own garden? Here are a few of my favorite ways (even though I do have a fairly large garden) to use even my local store to stock up on fruits and veggies for the coming winter months.

First of all I always love when my weekly sale ads arrive. If one of the local stores has a fruit or veggie that we all love and can be preserved, I will call ahead to make sure they have plenty on the day I go and then the fun begins. For example, each spring I watch the corn prices fall and when they reach about 4-5 ears for a dollar I spring to action. I call my local store and tell them I am coming. I usually get about 3 bushels and the whole family is involved in helping.

I cut some off the cob and freeze as cut corn, I freeze some half ears that are already husked and ready for a quick lunch time veggie and the rest I freeze still in the husk so it can be roasted on the grill or in the oven all winter long. It is fresh food for a fraction of the cost it will be come winter.!

Another of my favorite items to preserve from the store are strawberries. In my area we have several Aldi stores and many weeks during the summer they will put their strawberries on sale for 99 cents a pound. When they have this sale I love to make strawberry jelly or freeze the sliced berries for ice cream topping and smoothies. These berries and jam taste so fresh in the winter months as they have no added ingredients and are made from fresh fruit. The jelly isn't hard and you can even find lots of recipes for freezer jam out there if you don't want to can.

In my house we use a lot of green peppers and onions in cooking. I use them to make fajitas and quesadillas, and I put them in meatloaf too. I use onions to season taco meat and green beans. I am always using them and they are so VERY EASY to "preserve". When I find the green (or even the multi-colored) sweet peppers at a rock bottom price I buy a whole bunch. Once home all you have to do is wash them and cut them into the pieces you want. I typically do some in strips and some chopped so I can use them in more dishes. Then toss them into freezer bags and freeze until you need them. They break apart with a little bang on the counter and you can pour out what you want. The same is true with onions. Cut them into your desired size pieces and freeze. These are so convenient to have on hand and they save a ton of money as you can still eat the dishes you enjoy without paying a dollar something for one pepper. A dehydrator is another great tool to use on these if you are blessed to have one. And if you can make what you like at home, you will eat our less often and save even more!!

Last but not least I have been blessed over and over again by talking about how much I love summer and I love stocking my pantry and freezer with "extras" for winter. I make sure that my family and friends know that I will take their "leftovers" if they get tired of working their gardens and that while they are on vacation I will come weed and pick their garden. I have gotten zucchini, apples, berries, and tomatoes like that. Some people only want what they can eat and once they are tired of a certain food they just don't want to see it waste. Put yourself out there, ask if they have extra they would like to sell or barter for and you never know they might just give it to you. I have also found people on social media places such as Facebook around my community that once I let them know that I was looking to buy garden produce for cheap prices from local farmers they thought of me when they just had more than they wanted. It was such a blessing!

Even if you don't have a garden I encourage you to keep your eyes open for great ways to stock up on healthy and "preservative" free foods for your family. Almost anything you make or preserve at home will be much healthy than even your "organic" labeled processed food from the store. The closer to nature you can stay the better.

Written by Happily Domestic Contributor - Amanda Sikes

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1 comment:

Erica H. said...

Thanks for all the great ideas. I never get to do a garden because my husband and I live in an apartment. I will have to try doing some of these things. God bless! -Erica Hayes

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